Email marketing for small-and-medium-sized businesses is hopelessly broken.
Or at least that’s the thinking from Martha Bitar and Rebecca Shostak, the duo behind Flodesk, a company that’s taking on email marketing stalwarts like MailChimp, Mailerlite, Aweber, Drip, and ConvertKit. Beautiful emails, it turns out, are in.
Bitar and Shostak might be on to something: Eric Siu offered up worthwhile cold-email response rate data and anecdotally, more aesthetically pleasing emails do garner more eyeballs. Flodesk claims to be the only email marketing tool that, so far, offers up consistently attractive emails.
Curious minds that we are, Grit Daily caught up with the duo of this women-led brand to walk through experience design and how that relates back to rock stars.
Grit Daily: You two had your own interesting adventures before Flodesk. Share those.
Martha Bitar: Can we just intro each other? I’ll start! Rebecca doesn’t like to brag, but she is a design genius whose weapons of choice are a laptop with a full suite of Adobe, a glass of red wine, and a yearly pass to the MoMA. She is one hundred percent introvert with experience designing for millionaires and rockstars. Yes, rockstars—I mean that literally (think Linkin Park, Rihanna). She eventually went on to own several businesses that served creative entrepreneurs and decided she wanted to scale herself so everyone could have Rebecca designs in their team.
Rebecca Shostak: Martha has been building since the day she turned lemons into lemonade. She can circle a room in thirty minutes and leave knowing everyone’s name, birthday, and what they ate for breakfast. After being recruited by a three letter agency for her multi-lingual prowess and international connections, she said no thank you to a life of espionage and set out to use her skills in Silicon Valley, where she joined HoneyBook pretty early on to help creative entrepreneurs grow their businesses and live a life built on passion and purpose.
GD: For the uninitiated what, exactly, does Flodesk do?
MB: Email marketing. We make it ridiculously easy for entrepreneurs to design emails people love to get. No design, technical or marketing skills (or time to learn these) required.
GD: Why bother to wade into a market that looks so crowded, with Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Aweber, Drip, and ConvertKit all vying for marketing dollars?
RS: We’re the only service where anyone can make their emails look beautiful, guaranteed. Existing email marketing solutions have built-in templates and WYSIWYG editors, but are clunky and difficult to use for our target market. Available templates look like they were designed in the 90s and the user often must have HTML knowledge to make the emails look professional. But the end result of editing HTML still often looks janky and messed up across devices and email clients.
Small business owners instead build their audiences on social media platforms. The problem is that they don’t own their audience (and imagine what would happen if these crashed). Those who can afford it resort to outsourcing their email marketing and end up paying $thousands per month or giving up on this high converting channel altogether.
GD: What are they all missing?
MB: It’s 2019 and people expect a cohesive brand experience across all channels. Gen Zers already hold significant buying power, and as a digitally native generation they’re used to intuitive platforms like Instagram and to receiving emails from the likes of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. Existing platforms don’t even allow the use of custom fonts or design layouts. We have a proprietary technology that gives our users full creative freedom. Add a growing collection of gorgeous templates and a super intuitive interface, and you get an email marketing platform designed for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
What’s behind the Flodesk name?
RS: I always love to look for inspiration outside of the tech space, especially in architecture—and I mean buildings, not cloud—because it has so many parallels to software development. The ideologies of the pretty influential mid-century architect Richard Neutra came to mind since the very early stages of building Flodesk.
Neutra philosophized that clean, minimal homes not only felt good to reside in, but also had the power to improve your health. I thought about that for a good, long time, and then it dawned on me: why can’t this philosophy apply to software too? From there, we looked for words that conveyed a feeling of harmony in creativity (i.e. creative flow) in the entrepreneur’s workspace.
GD: What’s one conventional wisdom about email marketing that’s just plain wrong?
MB: Most people think email marketing is a mature space because it is mature for sophisticated companies with $50 millionex+ market cap, but for small businesses it’s hopelessly broken.